In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Read Mark 10: 17-31; Luke 10: 38-42
“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord…” (Psalm 27: 4) The Apostle Paul writes of the one thing to do: pressing on to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:14). Peter also writes, the one thing to remember is that with the Lord one day is a thousand years (2 Peter 3: 8, 9), demonstrating God’s longsuffering in the process of salvation, extending patiently his outstretched arms of love.
Here in the gospels, Jesus says to the rich young man, “One thing you lack…” and to Martha, Jesus answers, “Only one thing is needed.” One thing. Just one.
What is the one thing? Loving devotion to the Lord. Jesus challenges the rich young man, “One thing you lack. Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” His great wealth stood in the way of his desire for God. He stays with his wealth, which leads Jesus to the commentary, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
For Martha, she was distracted from attentiveness to Jesus by all the preparations of the household. She speaks up about the work and how her sister Mary has left her to herself. “Tell her to help me!” she demands. Jesus comforts Martha with a reminder of the one thing that matters most, and “Mary has chosen what is better.” Jesus much preferred the loving consideration of Mary instead of the distracted inattentiveness of Martha.
The “one thing” that matters most to Jesus is love. It’s love that brings one to repentance, forgiveness and salvation. It’s love that opens the door to a life of listening attentively to the invitations of the Lord for faithful obedience and sacrificial service. It’s love that delights in the empowerment of the Spirit for all of life, and which envelops hope and faith, mercy and grace, truth and joy.
What are the many things that hinder you from attentiveness to the one thing that matters most? Is it the many things of your profession and the acquisition of possessions; it is your relationships and the desire you have to please or power over others; or is it something else or something more? Identify that which stands in the way of you enjoying the one thing Jesus invites: a deep, unending love for God.
Behold the audience of One; believe the One Gospel of grace; belong to the One True God and all who call him Lord; and become more like the One Jesus, who calls you by name and desires to love and be loved by the one and only you.